Nissan North America will build the 2013 Sentra at its Canton plant in Mississippi in order to cope with the growing demand in Mexico and to meet its sales targets for the next-generation compact car. Nissan will be employing 600 more people to increase the Canton plant’s workforce to 4,500 employees as the company races to roll out the next-generation Sentra late this year. The carmaker will be implementing a redesign of the Sentra for the 2013 model year, with officials hoping that it would pose a more serious threat to segment leaders Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, which consistently outsell Nissan’s compact car by roughly a 2-1 ratio. Nissan posted a 22 percent increase in Sentra sales in the United States to 114,991 units in 2011. However, this year seems to be not very promising as Sentra sales fell 18 percent to 46,773 units for the first five months of 2012.
According to Nissan, it has to shift the production of 2013 Sentra to Canton, Miss., as the model’s production at its Aguascalientes assembly plant in Mexico is constrained. The Aguascalientes assembly plant also builds the Versa model that is being sold in the US, Mexico and other markets. Nissan has been shifting its car and light-truck lineup around its sites to cater to growing demand in Mexico, the US and Brazil.
Nissan is likewise moving the production of Xterra sports utility vehicles and Frontier pickup from Smyrna, Tenn., to Canton. The move will allow Nissan to free up capacity at its Smyrna site for the production of the Rogue crossover and the electric Leaf from Japan. Nissan, as well as other carmakers, has been shifting production away from Japan to prevent the strong yen from eating up their profits.
Nissan’s recent decision is expected to become an issue to UAW organizers who are seeking to unionize the non-union Canton plant. UAW organizers recently disclosed that they are gaining support for their unionization plans.